Review: A Virtual Love by Andrew Blackman

Posted June 14, 2013 by Heather in Book Reviews / 11 Comments

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: A Virtual Love by Andrew BlackmanA Virtual Love by Andrew Blackman
Published by Legend Press on March 1, 2013
Genres: Fiction
Format: eBook
Pages: 256
Source: the author

Goodreads | Amazon

For Jeff Brennan, juggling multiple identities is a way of life. Online he has dozens of different personalities and switches easily between them. Offline, he shows different faces to different people: the caring grandson, the angry eco-protester, the bored IT consultant.

So when the beautiful Marie mistakes him for a famous blogger, he thinks nothing of adding this new identity to his repertoire. But as they fall in love and start building a life together, Jeff is gradually forced into more and more desperate measures to maintain his new identity, and the boundaries between his carefully segregated personas begin to fray.

In a world where truth is a matter of perspective and identities are interchangeable, Jeff finds himself trapped in his own web of lies. How far will he go to maintain his secrets? And even if he wanted to turn back, would he be able to?

(from Amazon)

I don’t have different personas online. I do have separate Twitter and Facebook accounts for this blog, but my Twitter account for the blog is only slightly more professional than my personal account. My social networking worlds collide all the time and I’m okay with that. What you see is what you get. I don’t feel the need to put on a different face for family, friends, and the other people I interact with on a daily basis. I’ve never felt the need to do that.

Andrew Blackman’s A Virtual Love shows what can happen when someone decides to have multiple online identities. I’m sure there are lots of people out there who do this and it works out just fine. It doesn’t work out for Jeff Brennan, though, and his life becomes a mess both online and off. (Well, I guess it could be said that it worked out in the end, but not in an honest way.)

Jeff Brennan has this really boring job in IT at a law firm. In his spare time he hangs out with a friend on Skype on Saturday nights, visits his grandparents every Sunday, and attends various pro-environment protests set up by another friend. During one of these protests he meets Marie, who mistakes him for a very popular political blogger (they share the same name). This very popular political blogger is a private person and has never shown a photo of himself online. He doesn’t leave his apartment. Because no one knows what he looks like or who he really is, it seems easy for IT Jeff to take over his identity in order to woo the girl.

Well.

Things happen and IT Jeff finds out that it’s not so easy pretending to be a big political blogger. It takes a lot of work and sneaking around. IT’S HARD TO BE DISHONEST, YO. As always, it would be much easier to just be honest and take things from there. But that isn’t what IT Jeff does. And now he has to deal with the consequences.

A Virtual Love has an interesting format. Every chapter is told from the first-person POV, but by a different character in the story each time. The chapters switch back and forth from Jeff to Jeff’s grandfather to Marie to Jeff’s friends and so on. I wasn’t sure this was going to work at first. How do I know which character is speaking if the only reference is “I”? But Blackman makes it work by ensuring that the character says something within the first few sentences of each chapter to let the reader know who is doing the talking. I actually grew to like this format quite a bit because it’s different and I like that each character gets to tell their own part in the story (as opposed to some omniscient someone telling their parts).

A Virtual Love isn’t a book that I would have picked up on my own, but I’m glad I accepted a review copy from Blackman. It was a pretty good book that posed the questions that people on social networks are constantly discussing: Do our online personas represent who we really are, or what we want people to believe about us? Is it possible for an online identity to take over and change who we really are? Is that a good or a bad thing? In this digital age, we’re bound to hear more and more stories about things like this happening.

If you’re interested in reading a story about multiple online personalities gone wrong, I recommend Andrew Blackman’s A Virtual Love.

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  • I have serious narration issues; I seem to get turned off by some authors’ choices far more easily than most readers. Having alternating first person POV’s is one of those things, unless it is made very clear who’s speaking… I prefer it to be really blatant, like a chapter heading with the character’s name. And even if it is made clear, each character had better have a unique voice that adds to the story, because otherwise I just don’t see the point of doing it this way when close 3rd person is so similar to 1st in terms of knowing the character’s thoughts and emotions.

    What drives me more bonkers, though, is when one character is in 1st, and all other characters/scenes are in 3rd, especially if the book starts in 1st, and doubly especially if the 1st person voice isn’t distinct from the 3rd person narrator. The first time I came across this, I seriously thought the main character was spying on the 3rd person scene from somewhere nearby… especially in this case because the 1st person character DID have (what I thought was) a unique voice, but then there was no difference when it switched to the omniscient narrator! Which I guess would have worked if he was still telling the story, and it was a “I found this out later” kind of thing, but… no, that’s definitely not the way it was written.

    *sigh*

    Sorry for my mini-rant. Like I said, I have issues.

    • Hahaha! Your rants are always welcome here, and I understand why this format would bother people. I am pretty picky about narration, too, which is why I was worried about this book at first. Blackman pulled it off well, though.

  • Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader

    Well this sounds kind of groovy. The moral of the story is DON’T LIE JERKFACES!

    I agree with Charleen. I get a bit ragey if the POV isn’t as clear as a bell.

  • I am one of those people who presents different personalities to different people, but I’d like to think it’s not in a deceitful way, just in the ‘I don’t like you but still must be polite way’. I actually haven’t told my more than a couple friends about my blog, they are not readers and I actually worry that they will think I’m weirder than I already am (which probably says something about my friendships, though I don’t know what).

    I would actually say my online persona is more of who I really am, or who I wish I could be (I tend to be introverted in person). I try to be more outgoing online and actually ending talking to people more frequently that I met through blogging (mostly because I can leave a comment or send an email at 1am, but I can’t really call anyone or go grab a drink with someone at that time).

    This sounds like an interesting read, though I must admit that the POV’s would drive me a bit crazy too.

    • Well, yes, I think we all present different parts of ourselves depending on the situation. That goes without saying. I mean, I’m not going to swear like a trucker in a nice restaurant or in front of employers or something, and I do my best to be polite when I need to be. But I’m not worried about my parents being friends with me on Facebook, or my non-blogger friends reading my blog, or anything like that.

      • I would totally swear like a trucker in a nice restaurant. What’s wrong with that?

        I more meant that there are aspects of my personality/beliefs (versus behaviors) I hide – unfortunately. I wouldn’t lie (which is where the character crosses the line), but I tend to omit things.

        • That’s understandable–I know lots of people who do that, and I think it’s perfectly normal. I used to do that, too, at a different time in my life.

  • Matthew (Bibliofreak.net)

    Heather, really interested to read your thoughts on this one. And pleased to be able to comment on a book we’ve both read 🙂

    I’m seriously impressed that you are able to behave the same with all friends and family on a day-to-day basis – I’m not even close to that. While I am comfortable with who I am and what I believe (ever evolving as both these things are), I definitely tailor my behaviour to suit the situation (note, approximately 1/16 as much swearing around octogenarians as anyone else). Although whoever it was that said, “What’s important is not that you treat all people well, but that you treat all people the same” (sketchy quote), would probably not agree.

    Anyway, nice review.

  • Interesting review, Heather.:-) I have come across a few comments by Andrew Blackman on various blogs but never knew he is a writer. Well I am who I am and have never felt the urge to present varying or different persona. I will slip somewhere along the line I’m sure. Besides, it would be exhausting telling lies here and there.

  • This sounds interesting, Heather. In this day and age of catfishing and everything else going on online, sometimes you start to wonder about who it is you’re really talking to. However, some people take it to the other extreme, saying things like, “How can you be friends with someone online. How do you know they’re who they say they are?” Well, that’s all well and good, but I look at it this way. As long as they’re not trying to get something out of me or trying to start a relationship (not saying you can’t meet someone legitimately like that), I tend to believe that the people I’ve met are genuine. I have some very good friends who I’ve met online…you included. That being said, it still doesn’t hurt to be a bit cautious.

    Didn’t mean to ramble on. 😉 Thanks for another great review!

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